Just Sociology

Evaluating Tory Education Policies: Successes and Controversies

As a society, we place significant importance on the education of our children, and many government policies have been created to improve the outcomes and opportunities of young people. In recent years, the UK government has implemented a range of educational policies aimed at improving the standards of education and making it more accessible to all.

In this article, we will examine several complex theories surrounding specific educational policies in the UK, and discuss their implications for students, families, and society as a whole.

Conservative Education Policy from 2015

Austerity and funding cuts

The Conservative government, after coming into power in 2015, embarked on an austerity program that encompassed the education sector as well. Funding for public spending, including for education, was cut drastically.

This led to substantial reductions in budgets for local authorities, schools, and further education institutions. Secondary schools, in particular, were affected by significant losses to real-term funding of around eight percent per pupil, which led to cuts in staff numbers, school resources, and support services.

The austerity program has undoubtedly had a severe impact on the quality of education that students receive, with many schools struggling to maintain adequate levels of support and resources for their pupils.

Academies and Free Schools

Another policy implemented by the Conservative government was the conversion of local authority (LEA) schools to academies or the introduction of free schools. The aim was to make schools more autonomous, reduce bureaucracy, and improve standards by bringing in different models of governance.

However, the policy soon came under fire from critics who argued that it would lead to increased inequality and a more fragmented education system. Some schools with sound financial management were deterred from converting to academies, while other schools struggled with managing their budgets and resources due to a lack of support from local authorities.

Grammar Schools

The Conservative government also sought to increase the number of grammar schools in the country, claiming that it would give children from disadvantaged backgrounds better opportunities. Critics argued that grammar schools would only reinforce social and economic inequality by segregating pupils based on their academic ability.

In addition, the policy was criticized for its impact on the performance of non-selective schools and concerns raised about school performance in areas where grammar schools were scarce. The subsequent introduction of annexes and multi-academy trusts only added to the complexity of the policy.

Pupil Premium

To counter the effects of socio-economic disadvantage on education, the government introduced the

Pupil Premium. The funding targeted disadvantaged students, with free school meals being a key determinant of eligibility.

The aim was to provide extra support for these students and improve their outcomes. The impact of the

Pupil Premium, however, has been mixed, with some schools using the funding ineffectively and not being held accountable by OFSTED.

This has led to concerns over the accessibility and effectiveness of the program.

Ebacc and technical education

The introduction of the English Baccalaureate, or Ebacc, quickly became a contentious policy. The policy, aimed at increasing the uptake of core academic subjects, was criticized for neglecting technical education, especially at a time when many jobs required vocational qualifications.

Critics also feared that the policy would lead to declining levels of creativity and innovation among students. The government later introduced measures to promote technical qualifications as a viable alternative to the Ebacc subjects.

T Level Qualifications

The latest addition to government policy is T Level qualifications, which aim to offer 16-19-year-olds a broader range of choices and opportunities for technical education. This policy takes into account the changing requirements of the job market and the need for students to be appropriately skilled to compete effectively in the modern economy.

The implementation of T Level qualifications, however, poses challenges for schools and colleges, in terms of providing teaching staff, offering the right resources, and promoting these qualifications to students.

30 hours free childcare for 3-4 year-olds

Policy details

The 30 hours of free childcare policy was introduced by the government in 2017 as a way of providing working parents with more affordable childcare. The policy has provided parents with an additional 15 hours of free childcare, in addition to the already available 15 hours per week.

The aim of this policy was to make work pay by removing the financial barriers that prevent parents from working. The policy has broader implications, too, as it can influence the ways in which parents perceive work-life balance, gender roles, and education for their children.


Critics, however, point out the tendency of the policy to concentrate benefits on families who are already able to afford childcare or who have the ability to juggle irregular working hours. Families who are socio-economically disadvantaged or who have children with special educational needs may have difficulty accessing the benefits of the 30-hour childcare policy.

This issue may further exacerbate the existing educational achievement gap, leading to long-term effects on the future life chances of young people. Additionally, some caregivers have voiced concerns over workload and payment, affecting the administration of the policy.


In conclusion, the Conservative government’s education policies have had a mixed response from the public. While some policies aimed to improve the standards of education and provide greater opportunities for students, others have come under heavy criticism for perpetuating inequality and undermining the quality and accessibility of education.

The 30 hours free childcare policy is no exception, with concerns raised over its unequal application and efficacy. As a society, we must continue to examine these policies and discuss ways in which we can improve educational outcomes for all students, regardless of socio-economic status or other factors.Since the Conservative government came to power in 2015, it has introduced a range of education policies, with varying degrees of success.

The policies aimed to improve standards, provide greater autonomy for schools, promote technical education and enhance access and opportunities for students. In this article, we will evaluate the Tory education policies from 2015, focusing on marketisation, grammar schools, Ebacc, and T levels.

We will highlight the evidence supporting or opposing each policy, examining their impact on education and students.

Evaluations of Tory Education Policies since 2015


One of the most significant changes in education since the Conservatives came to power is the marketisation of education. The conversion of schools to academies or free schools has led to a more competitive education market where schools are competing for students, while at the same time, granting more autonomy on how the schools are run.

Supporters argue that marketisation drives up standards of education through competition while giving schools more freedom. However, critics argue that marketisation undermines democratic oversight of schools, leading to failures such as financial mismanagement and ineffective educational practices.

Grammar Schools

Grammar schools are selective state schools that cater to high performing students, mostly from middle-class families. The Conservative government’s policy to increase the number of grammar schools attracted criticism from various groups.

Opponents argue that grammar schools promote segregation and perpetuate social inequality. The government claims that grammar schools give more opportunities to disadvantaged students by increasing their access to academically rigorous schools.

However, the evidence does not support this claim, with many studies indicating that grammar schools perform no better than non-selective schools.

EBacc and curriculum

The English Baccalaureate or Ebacc is a qualification aimed at increasing the uptake of traditional academic subjects such as English, Maths, Science, and languages. Supporters of this policy argue that the Ebacc helps to maintain standards and that students need a broad and balanced education that prepares them for life.

However, critics argue that promoting the Ebacc subjects narrows the curriculum, leading to a lack of diversity, limited student choice, and lower standards in other subjects. Studies show mixed results regarding the policy, with some indicating that the Ebacc increases student achievement, while others do not.

T Level Qualifications

T Level qualifications, introduced in 2018, are technical education qualifications that aim to provide students with the skills required to succeed in the 21st-century job market. The policy has received broad support from many who believe that technical education is critical for economic growth and individual success.

Furthermore, T Levels offer more diversity in choice, allowing students to learn through classroom learning, practical placements, and industry expertise. With its first cohort only just being entered, a practical evaluation of the success of the policy is not yet feasible, but initial feedback is positive.


Education is a crucial component of a society. The Conservative government’s education policies since 2015 aimed to improve access, promote autonomy, narrow the curriculum while at the same time, enhancing academic standards.

Evaluations of such policies have shown a mixed response. While T Level qualifications have been broadly approved, Grammar schools, for instance, have attracted criticism for increasing inequality.

The Ebacc has had mixed reviews, with research indicating success in increasing student achievement rates but a lack of diversity and choice. The marketisation of schools has also had both positive and negative effects, resulting in varying degrees of success in enhancing the standards of education.

Ultimately, it is crucial to continue to examine and evaluate Tory education policies to determine their success in providing a comprehensive and effective education system for all students, regardless of their background or socio-economic status. Conclusion:

The Conservative government’s education policies since 2015 have had a significant impact on education in the UK, with some policies being met with support and others with opposition.

While it is necessary to continue evaluating these policies to determine their success in promoting a comprehensive and effective education system for all students, it is encouraging that the government is attempting to provide greater opportunities for students through technical education and the

Pupil Premium, and promoting a broader range of academic and vocational qualifications. FAQs:

Q: What is marketisation in education?

A: It is the conversion of schools to academies or free schools, which promotes competition and student choice. Q: What is the evidence supporting grammar schools?

A: There is limited evidence to support grammar schools, with many studies indicating that they do not perform better than non-selective schools. Q: What is the purpose of the EBacc?

A: The purpose of the EBacc is to promote traditional academic subjects and increase academic standards. Q: What is the significance of T Level qualifications?

A: T Level qualifications aim to provide students with the skills required to succeed in the 21st-century job market and offer more diversity in choice. Q: What is the impact of funding cuts on education?

A: Funding cuts have had a severe impact on the quality of education, with many schools struggling to maintain adequate levels of support and resources for their pupils.

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